By Ian Dunt
Children of married couples should be given priority for places at Catholic faith schools, a leading religious figure has suggested.
Ashley Beck, dean of studies for the Archdiocese of Southwark told Catholic newspaper the Tablet that unmarried couples could not possibly claim to be living in accordance with Catholic teaching.
"If a couple is not in any kind of married relationship, they are not living according to Catholic teaching," he said.
"Parents in this position should not, as a matter of justice, displace married parents if a school is popular."
Secular groups reacted angrily to the comment and insisted any such move would be prohibited by the admissions code.
James Gray, British Humanist Association (BHA) faith schools and education campaigns officer, said: "Fr Beck's views are completely out of step with modern Britain - the public has chosen to reject insular and intolerant religious agendas.
"Fr Beck's comments have given us a glimpse of the kind of discrimination we may see if the government continues to increase the influence of religious groups in our schools."
Faith schools remain the subject of critical debate in Britain, although both Labour and the Tories have supported the institutions.